Thursday, February 8, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: Helm's Deep (TTT 3, 7)

Another favorite chapter! It's funny -- I get kind of tired of the Helm's Deep section in the movies, but in the book? It's stellar! The movie goes on and on and on, but in the book it's only like fifteen pages and so brilliant.

If you ever want to write a suspenseful action scene where the tension and excitement spiral tighter and tighter, and you're looking for an example of a scene that does exactly that, read this chapter. By the end of it, I'm in goosebumps. I'm in goosebumps just typing about it! The horn starts blasting, Theoden and Aragorn ride forth, and then we see the trees. And Erkenbrand. And Gandalf. It's amazing. I might cry with joy.

(That's Gandalf arriving on Shadowfax -- it looks better on my TV. Hmm.)

Anyway, so much to love in this chapter. Helm's Deep itself is a cool fortress place, and I love how Gimli stamps around rhapsodizing about the good bones the mountain has. He felt out of place in the forest, but now he's right at home, and its Legolas' turn to feel out of place. Cracks me up.

And yes, a forest marched over here during the night. We'll learn more about that in the next chapter, but basically, it's not only the Ents who have gone to war; some of the trees have too.

Favorite Lines:

Even as they looked he was gone: a flash of silver in the sunset, a wind over the grass, a shadow that fled and passed from sight (p. 516).

"Trust not to secret ways," said the king (p. 517).

"Give me a row of orc-necks and room to swing and all weariness will fall from me!" (p. 520).

"...oft the unbidden guest proves the best company" (p. 522).

"None knows what the new day shall bring him," said Aragorn (p. 527).

Discussion Questions:

Do you find the eleventh-hour arrival of Gandalf, Erkenbrand, and the forest all together to be totally awesome, or a little too convenient?

How do you think the battle would have gone if any one of those three had not shown up?


  1. In the movie, I think the arrival of Gandalf and the trees is well-played. You see the different reasoning behind how they got there, and it makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, the random arrival of the elves in the cinematic version is a little...odd.

    For me, the Helm's Deep sequence is one of my favorite parts of TTT in the cinematic version. I feel it offers some great characterization of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Theoden, as well as a nice foreshadowing of Eowyn's character arc. However, after listening to the commentary, I also have a lot of appreciation for how much work went into filming the sequence, which may play a stronger role in my opinion of it. The relative lack of CGI makes it feel more realistic than many newer films, which I appreciate.

    1. RM, yeah, the elves joining the fight at Helm's Deep is a bit odd, and I always feel like it makes Legolas being there less special, somehow. I do think they did a good job with Helm's Deep in the movie -- they really make you feel the desperation and suspense. I just like the book version better.

      The commentaries and extra features on the LOTR discs (esp the special editions) are utterl delightful!


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